Sexism and forced feminization

I received this comment on my Why Idiots are Idiots post:

Dear Jen,

I would really like to know your opinion regarding forced feminization.

You see, forced feminization means that a male submissive is being degraded and humiliated by training and transforming him into a more feminine role and body. Does this imply that the femininity is somehow inferior to masculinity? I’m honestly confused about this.

Also, I find it interesting that there is no counterpart “forced masculinization”, where a maledom for example cuts his subs hair short, binds her breasts back and makes her fix his car.

Alright, I’ll be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question, and of course I’ve seen all the articles and angry blog posts talking about how forced feminization is sexist because it reinforces the idea that feminizing a man makes him less, because femininity is less.  Usually, I just roll my eyes, shake my head, and ignore it.  For many reasons, and I’ll get into a couple here.  However, since you were polite in your comment, I’ll take the time to answer.

But before I get into all that, there’s one thing I want to point out, because this mindset pervades many different kinks and fetishes.

The BBW fetish demeans plus size women. Femdom porn demeans women because it’s unrealistic and puts women in overly sexual outfits.  Being into blondes or Asians or petite women is demeaning because it fetishizes their appearance.  With basically every fetish out there, you have people who say it’s demeaning.

Here’s the thing, though.

I don’t fucking care.

I don’t care whether my fetishes are politically correct or not.  I’m not watching porn or feminizing Jessie for social commentary.  I’m literally just trying to get off.

It’s what I do, in private, with consenting adults, that doesn’t affect anyone else outside of the people right there with me.  It affects literally no one else.

It’s just a fetish.  People have some pretty fucked up ones.  As long as mentally sound adults consent to the fetish and it doesn’t cause unreasonable damage (No, I’m not castrating a man in my living room because he has a castration fetish), who cares?  It’s literally just a fetish.

It’s not like a sexual fetish is going to determine one’s vote.

And sure, maybe the BBW fetish is demeaning.  Maybe the only reason some men have been into me was because they fetishized my body.

But quick, guess who still got off on those guys.  So why do I care?

So that’s the quick answer.  But as far as forced feminization goes, it’s not the right answer.

The seemingly popular idea that forced feminization is sexist or implies that femininity is inferior is just plain wrong.

Why?

The answer is laughably complicated, and yeah, some of it has origins in toxic masculinity, but mostly it has to do with one’s identity.  My last post touched on the subject of identity, and the brain’s habit of desperately clinging to that identity.

For most men today, masculinity has been put up on this pedestal and heralded as the end-all, be-all of manhood, to the point that anything feminine, any show of sensitivity or softness or vulnerability leaves a man open to ridicule.

It is a massive part of what it means to be a man.  It’s a huge part of manhood as an identity.

And it’s sad, it really is, because it cheapens manhood as a whole.  It makes manhood shallow, nothing more than a collection of behaviors and attitudes current society has deemed masculine.

Back in the day, the epitome of manhood was being considered a gentleman.  And culturally, what was a gentleman?  He was kind, polite, responsible, and protective of those around him, quick to sacrifice his own comfort for the comfort of others.  He took care of his responsibilities, he did what was best for those who depended on him, he had the balls to admit when he needed help, and vulnerability or sensitivity were part of his identity.

A gentleman was not an unfeeling dudebro who could outdrink his buddies.  His identity as a man was not wrapped up in how masculine he was.

Of course, society back then was very, very far from perfect, so don’t think I’m putting that type of man on a pedestal.  I’m simply pointing out that society had a better relationship with masculinity back then.

This hyper masculinity is a relatively recent thing.  I’ve read it speculated that it has to do with the rise of women’s rights and feminism being seen as threatening to men of that time, who in turn clung to their masculinity and created the toxic relationship with it that they then pounded into their sons and grandsons and so on until it became a societal norm, something expected from all men.

Whether that’s true or not isn’t the point.  The point is that we as a culture have developed an extremely unhealthy relationship with masculinity and masculine behaviors.

Obviously that’s the problem with toxic masculinity, and one of the many effects it has had on many men is that it influences their identity greatly.  Masculinity is a huge part of the average guy’s identity.  Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is a different conversation, trust me, this will be long enough.  The result is still the same.  It’s a big part of who they are.

And what happens when you force someone to give up such a big part of their identity?

It’s uncomfortable, even painful, and, depending on the context, deeply humiliating.

Just as with pretty much anything else, there is a group of people who have fetishized that discomfort and pain, and when performed in a consensual relationship with clearly-defined boundaries and limitations, those people can enjoy the discomfort the same way physical masochists enjoy the pain of being hit.

And it’s true not just with masculinity and femininity, but with anything an individual holds as a major part of their identity.

For example, Kazander and I used to switch for his birthday.  My longtime readers are very much aware of how much I dreaded and disliked it, how unnatural and uncomfortable it was for me, how it took days to literally shut off portions of my personality, and even that wasn’t enough to make me a “good” sub.  And yes, it was often humiliating.  Unfortunately for him (and me), I don’t fetishize receiving that humiliation, and it annoyed me more than anything else.

It was humiliating because my Dominance is such an integral part of who I am, and switching runs so deeply counter to that, it was a constant struggle for me.

But does the fact that I found it humiliating mean that I see submission as inferior to Dominance?  No.

For example, you don’t have to be a longtime reader to know how much I respect and admire Jessie.  And as it happens, I asked him how he would feel about switching.

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Needless to say, he was not a fan of the idea.  It would be so deeply uncomfortable for him, he wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.  Because that is far outside the boundaries and limitations of what becomes fetishized in his brain.

Because that’s just not who he is.  That’s not how he relates to someone in a sexual capacity.  That’s not how he and I relate to each other.

Trying to force him to be my Dominant in a session would be far more uncomfortable than putting him in a dress, or even forcing him to take a man’s cock in his ass.  The fact that it would create so much nervousness and anxiety in him would absolutely manifest as humiliation.

Does that mean that Dominance is inferior to submission, because he would find it humiliating?  No.  It’s just counter to who he is.

Have you noticed how effeminate men, or men who don’t have masculinity as such a big part of their identity, don’t feel the same discomfort or humiliation at being feminized?  Forced feminization as a tool to humiliate and degrade only works if masculinity plays a central role in who a man is.

As it happens, it’s a societal norm for masculinity to play that big a role in a man’s identity, so it is humiliating and degrading for most men in today’s society.

And yes, toxic masculinity is responsible for the sheer number of men who hold their masculinity as such a big part of who they are.  But it’s not any more sexist to fetishize that than it is to fetishize a skin color or hair color or height or weight or literally anything else.

You don’t see forced masculinization because women don’t have that same problem.  We don’t hold our femininity as such a huge part of our identity.  We have more cultural freedom, so we’re all over the gender expression spectrum.  We aren’t particularly attached to one or the other the way men are.

So we don’t feel the humiliation, but we can still feel that discomfort.

Like me, for example.  I don’t like sliding too far to either side of that spectrum.  Sure, I can dress up and be uber ultra feminine, but I have to be able to move back to the masculine side.  You mention a Dom forcing a female sub to fix his car.  I can change my body language and speech patterns and be just as masculine as any guy, and talk cars with the best of them, but I have to be able to move back to the feminine side.

Too far in either direction doesn’t cause the same humiliation that it causes in most men, because gender is not as big a part of my identity, but it’s not pleasant, because it’s not who I am.

So I mean, this idea that forced feminization is sexist or implies that femininity is inferior to masculinity just doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny.  It doesn’t work.

Reining in my inner bitch

So Kazander has this friend.  And the first time I met him, he was nice enough, I guess.  I drove him home after the Super Bowl because he was breathtakingly drunk, and told him I’d disembowel him with a plastic spork if he puked in my car.

But then, the more time I spent around him, the less I liked him.  When he refused to let me join the fantasy football league he’d invited Kazander to join, citing “No Chicks” as the rule, my opinion of him plummeted.

Because the poor boys just can’t handle a woman doing better than them, apparently.

I was beyond annoyed, and immediately lost pretty much all respect for him.  But I was civil and polite.  He has a daughter around the spawn’s age, that the spawn actually likes (in small doses, the kid is a huge brat, and even the spawn would lean over and whisper in my ear, “She doesn’t have very good manners, does she, Mommy?”), and the spawn has a birthday coming up (she wants a haunted house theme for her birthday party, which is super easy to do in fucking August), and she doesn’t have a lot of friends her age (mostly because I can’t fucking stand kids her age), so I’m trying to be nice.

The other day though, and then today, it took every ounce of willpower I have to refrain from unleashing my inner psycho-Domme crazy bitch on him.

It started when he made a stupid mistake, and yet another sexist remark.

I was talking about my dream car, which, as all my longtime readers know, is a Dodge Charger Hellcat.  Which may be considered odd, given my penchant and passion for sports cars and muscle cars, as the Charger is neither.

Sorta.

It’s a sedan.  But it’s a sedan with 707 horsepower, a top speed of 204 mph, and can complete 1/4 mile in 11.0 seconds.

Yeah, it’s faster than its Challenger brother (all cars are boys in my head.  Not girls.  ‘Cuz I’m a rebel).  Because, as it turns out, and this was totally unexpected by the designers of the car, the longer body makes it more aerodynamic than the Challenger.

It only comes with an automatic transmission, which makes me sad, but I’m somewhat consoled by the degree to which you can customize how and when the gears shift by programming it.

AND…

Let’s compare it to some other cars, shall we?  We know that the Charger Hellcat has 707hp, 204mph top speed, and insanely enough, it costs about 65 grand.  It can also seat 5 people.

Conversely, the Lamborghini Aventador Pirelli has 691 hp (slightly lower), a top speed of 217 mph (slightly higher), sits 2 (slightly lower), has a V12 engine (even more of a gas guzzler than the Charger) and is a steal at $400,000 (just slightly higher).

And Ferrari, the Starbucks of supercars (I say that because, while Starbucks is indeed very good, it is undeniably overpriced and they seem to care more about merchandising and their logo than they care about the product.  There is a Ferrari watch, a Ferrari camera, and – and this is true – a fucking Ferrari Segway, for fuck’s sake.  Jesus Christ), struggles to keep up, too.  The cheapest one you can get, pretty much the only one someone who isn’t a millionaire would be likely to get, is the California T, which starts at $200,000.  And it seats 2, has a top speed of 196 mph, and 550 hp.

A fucking Charger sedan can hold its own against names like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and MacLaren.  For under $70,000.

I mean, are you kidding me?

Of course, one must remember that the Ferrari, Lamborghini, and MacLaren are specifically designed not just to go fast with a shit ton of power, but to stay on the road when you take turns at high speeds.  The Charger has the power and the speed, but not the control and precision of the cars 5 times the price.

M’kay, cool.  But I don’t want a car that costs 3 grand a month to maintain and I can’t park in any parking lot, because I don’t have all that much faith in human beings.  The Charger Hellcat is very unassuming and doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself (when it’s parked and turned off), because it’s a sedan, and it says Dodge Charger on it, and most people just assume it’s a regular family car.

I’m seriously rambling.  The point is I love that fucking car, and I was talking about all the things I love about it.  Sexist Douche heard me going on and on about it (I can occasionally ramble a bit) and got all super condescending and said, “Are you serious?  You couldn’t handle that car in daily life.  Do you know how horsepower works?”

Oh, you poor, silly little man.

Kazander sensed me getting ready to let loose, and let out a groan as soon as Sexist Douche uttered the words.  He knew I wasn’t going to let that go.

But first of all, what???  Do I know how horsepower works?  What the hell kind of question is that?  How do you even answer a question like that?  That’s like asking, “Do you know how counting works?”

Do I know what horsepower is?  Yeah, bro.  It’s a unit of measurement, invented by James Watt a long time ago (honestly, I don’t remember when, and don’t care enough to look it up.  The fact that I can name the inventor is usually enough to shut up the assholes who think boobs make it impossible to know about cars), defined as the amount of coal a single horse can lift out of a mine in one minute (or 33,000 foot-pounds).

Do I know what horsepower measures?  Yeah, bro.  It measures the total power and acceleration of an operating car.  As opposed to brake horsepower, which measures the total output of the engine, without all the shit that an operating car has attached to the engine that slow it down.

So I mean, no one can match me at getting condescending.  I’m a master of it.  And I took great, childlike joy in utterly humiliating him.

And for the record, no, I’ve never driven a car with 707 hp.  I did, however, handle a 562 hp Lamborghini Gallardo pretty well, with a very respectable lap time, above average for the day (and one of the employees told me I and the woman with me were the only females there that day).

Also, just by the way, I made my goddamn living handling a 600 hp diesel Cummings 18-speed engine pretty fucking well.

He thinks he’s special?

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No, ladies and gentleman.  That is not an 8-speed.  I know there are 8 numbers there, but you see those little H’s and L’s?

Um…  Yeah…

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Can he figure out what range and what gear he needs to be in, hauling 80,000 pounds, on a 6% incline?  Or worse, a 6% downgrade?  Engine brakes won’t do shit for you at that point.  And it won’t take much to burn out your brakes and lose them completely.  With the company I worked for, if you ever lose control and need to use one of those truck runaway ramps, you immediately get fired.

Because it does a lot of damage to a truck they’re still likely making $900 per week (no, that’s not a typo.  $900 per week) payments on, and it’s a completely preventable disaster.  If you ever need a runaway truck ramp, you fucked up pretty spectacularly.

When you’re that heavy, with all the fucking roaches (roaches are 4-wheeled cars, and to all my readers, please know that I say this as lovingly as possible: you all piss us the fuck off, literally every time you drive.  Stop being a dick to truck drivers.  They work 11-14 hour shifts, they get paid pennies per mile, and the entire country would literally lose its fucking shit if truck drivers ever go on strike.  Vegas would be dead in days.  We rely on trucks for pretty much everything.  And you cannot demand a service while simultaneously being a dick to those who provide that service, m’kay.  You like living in literally any city in the country?  Want to continue being able to buy food in that city on a somewhat regular basis?  Don’t be a dick to truck drivers.  Unless you live on a farm or across the street from a cattle ranch, you will literally starve without them), it’s hard to maintain a slow enough speed.  Going fast is bad for semis on downgrades.  The brakes will literally catch fire.

I have no idea what I was originally talking about.

Oh yeah…

So I cheerfully humiliated the Sexist Douche.  And, naturally, as most Sexist Douches do, he backed off and crawled away with his tail between his legs when he realized I knew more about cars than he does.  End of story.

Until today.

I had to play Designated Driver today, and we had actually seen a Challenger Hellcat on the way there, so I was totally gushing about it. I was talking to the FIL about it when none other than Sexist Douche walked up.

He inserted himself into the conversation, but he was decidedly less douche-y, so I engaged with him.  We got on the topic of Mustangs, the Harley Davidson of sports cars (I say that because people who don’t know anything about motorcycles – of which I am one – think that Harleys are extremely powerful and fast, the elite of the elite.  But they’re not.  They just have the iconic name and the iconic shape.  Much like the Mustang.  But don’t get me wrong, there’s this attitude that you’re not allowed to like what you like if it’s not the absolute best in the world, and that’s stupid.  You like the Mustang?  Awesome.  It’s popular for a reason.  Harley is popular for a reason.  Cool.  Drive the hell out of it.  Enjoy it.  Just don’t pretend it’s something it’s not.  Same with the Ferrari.  Lots of people like it.  It’s popular for a reason.  Starbucks is popular for a reason.  Cool.  Drive the hell out of it.  Enjoy it.  Just don’t pretend it’s something it’s not).

And for awhile, it was going fine.  Until

“Well, Mustang’s biggest problem is that it became a bitch car.”

“A what?”

“A bitch car.”

I assumed he meant that the car was wimpy, or it didn’t have a lot of power.

Oh, but he wasn’t done.

“No offense.  But it’s just that a lot of women started driving them.  So, like, real gearheads lost interest, and ever since then, Mustangs in general have just gone downhill.”

Wait, what?

What the actual fuck, you unbelievable misogynist asshole?

I honestly didn’t even know what to say to that.  I was basically just done with him as a human being.  I was over it.

I realized that nothing I, or any woman, could ever say would change his perception of us.  He sees us as an intrusion on the car enthusiast world.  Something to be tolerated, at best.  He will never take me, or any other woman, seriously.  Girls stick to girl stuff, while boys stick to boy stuff.

thought I had opened his eyes a few days ago, when I revealed that I knew more about horsepower than he did.

And for anyone who’s never experienced that, it really is just such a shitty feeling.  It’s the same feeling I get whenever I take my car to the shop by myself and the mechanic scoffs and laughs when I tell him I replaced the O2 sensor.  When he says, “You replaced it?  You?”

It just makes you feel so invalidated, and helpless, because there’s nothing you can ever do about it.  You can’t just stop being a woman.

And it’s just another reminder that you’re going to have to deal with this for the rest of your life.  You can’t win.  If you “stick to girl stuff,” you’ll be belittled because you’re “just a woman,” of course you don’t know things like how to change a tire.

But if you take an interest in “boy stuff,” you’ll be belittled because the boys will never take you seriously.  You’ve got to know more, you’ve got to work harder, you’ve got to hold yourself to higher standards than a guy in that field.

Most men don’t know the difference between horsepower and brake horsepower, for example.  It’s just not something that’s super important, in the big scheme of things, because it’s more a theoretical measurement, than anything else.

But if I were to be talking to a gearhead, and he mentioned brake horsepower, and I didn’t know the difference, it would be “just another reason why girls just don’t know anything about cars.”

When I was dealing with the shit with the leukemia, my doctor, who is actually really good, I like him a lot, at one point tried to tell me my symptoms were because of “stress.”

Which, let’s be honest, is just this century’s version of female hysteria.

I asked him how many men he’s said that to, how many men have come into his office with any number of symptoms, and were told the cause was “stress.”

And you could watch him realize just how many women he’s said that to, and how few men he’s said it to.

And to be fair, he immediately retracted the comment and started taking me seriously.  Four-ish months later, I had a leukemia diagnosis.

It’s everywhere, it really is.  Thankfully, the majority of men, when they realize they’re doing it, immediately stop and correct.  Because it’s not something they do with any kind of malicious intent or because they don’t respect me.  It’s simply because society has ingrained certain attitudes and mindsets into the heads of everyone, men and women, and it’s not always easy to recognize it.

So most of the time, it’s not a problem.  Most people are generally decent and good human beings, and most people, when they realize that they are belittling another human being because that human being has boobs, they are quick to correct.

But then you have the Sexist Douches, who are either too stupid to understand, or too pathetic and small-minded to care about the fact that they are belittling another human being.

As is obviously the case with this Sexist Douche.  I mean, really, what’s the point of continuing that conversation?  What’s the point of giving him any of my time?  If he still belittles women, even after I showed that I have an extensive knowledge of both supercars and American muscle cars, when I could meet him as an equal as we debated whether a Shelby GT500 is better than a Charger Hellcat, even after I established myself as his equal on the subject of supercars (we were talking about horsepower, and he mentioned the Bugatti Veyron.  I rolled my eyes and said, “Sure, if we’re looking at that kind of car, we might as well just go with the Pagani Huayra.”  He said, “Yeah, but the emission system isn’t street legal.  You’d have to modify it.  And that’s like ten grand.”  I laughed and said, “Yeah, so if you have the kind of income that warrants spending 1.5 million dollars on a car, ten thousand dollars to modify the exhaust is just too far out of budget.  But why stop there?  The Huayra BC is street legal, and only about double the price.”), even after all that, he still sees me as beneath him, then there’s just nothing I can do or say.

I could build him a fucking MacLaren P1, from the ground up, using parts from a Bugatti Chiron and a Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio, because why the hell not, by myself, in 12 hours, and he’d still look at me as less than him.

Those are some of the most expensive cars in the world, by the way.  And I want to think only like 10 of the Ferrari were ever made.  Kinda hard to find, even if you happen to have 3-ish million dollars lying around.  And that MacLaren is fucking sexy.

But the point is, it just doesn’t matter what you do or say.  People like that will never change.

Jesus fucking Christ, and this guy has a daughter.

I kind of understand why the kid is such an obnoxious little shit, now.

No, but in all seriousness, I actually, legitimately, genuinely am heartbroken for her.  Because she’s going to grow up with a man who constantly belittles and demeans her.  She’s going to grow up thinking that she’s not good enough, she’ll never be good enough.

And what’s more, she’s going to grow up thinking that’s what a man is supposed to be.  So she’s going to end up with a stupid, pathetic, small-minded misogynist loser just like him.  And the saddest part is that, because she won’t know any better, she’ll let that stupid, pathetic, small-minded misogynist loser treat her like shit.

I’m a grown ass woman.  I can handle the misogynist douchebags.  But to be brought up like that?  It just sucks.  It really just fucking sucks.

From the other side

This is a guest post written by a trans man who wishes to remain anonymous.  For purposes of discussion, he goes by Omega.

I’ll keep the history short.  We all have different stories, but at the heart of them, they’re all the same.  Our entire lives, we knew something wasn’t right.  We knew something was off.

But I’d learned to live with the Off.  I’d accepted it as part of me.  The bitterness I felt at having the wrong body was the thing I assumed all women felt.  Some hate their thighs, some hate their breasts, some hate their hips or their stomach or their calves or their shoulders.

I hated….

Well, I didn’t really hate it.  Not once I became an adult, anyway.

The woman I was outside was the Off, but she had her uses.  I’d learned how to work with her, how to use her to get what I needed.

And she’s a tough bitch.  She knew how to protect me when I needed it.  She covered me up, she built walls around me to keep out those who would hurt me.

She’s stronger than anyone else I’ve ever met.  And she’s tireless.  A warrior.

Because she’d lived in this world as a woman, and I never really understood what that meant until I set her aside and entered the world as a man.

The things she’s endured, the things she’s dealt with…

There’s honestly no way to comprehend it without living it.

I respect her.  I admire her.  I resent her for existing.  I resent the fact that I needed her for so long.  I resent the fact that I still do.

Because it wasn’t until I was able to pass as a man that I realized just how strong she was.  How strong she was forced to be.

I took advantage of her; I used her.

Because I never knew what it meant to be her.

The truth, the pure and objective truth, is that sexism is alive, and male privilege is depressingly real.

She noticed it before I did.

Because it was subtle at first.  There was so much else going on, I didn’t notice it.  I was too worried about things like going to the public restroom.  But she noticed it.

It devastated me again to realize it.

People speak to me differently than they did to her.  They look at me differently.  They react to me differently.  Cashiers, waiters, car mechanics, the postman, employers, employees, the entire world sees me differently than they saw her.

The amount of respect strangers unthinkingly show me is different than the respect they showed her.  The level of competence people assume I have is different than the level they assume she had.  The way they accommodate me is different than the way they accommodated her.

It’s not everyone, and it’s not every situation, but it’s consistent enough to be a pattern, and the pattern holds true.

I realized how hard she is.  How hard she needed to be.

I realized just how much of the anxiety and dislike of myself wasn’t due to anxiety or depression, but from the way people saw me, the way they treated me.

It’s so unfair, what she had to go through to protect me, the way the entire world shrugged her off as having less worth.  The car mechanics who scoffed at her, the computer and technical repairmen who ignored her, the plumbers and electricians who walked into her home and blatantly disrespected her, the way doctors shrugged her off, the demeaning comments from any man who disagreed with her, the way everyone subconsciously belittled her.

I never even realized it until it suddenly wasn’t there anymore.  I look back on my childhood, on my adolescence, on my young adulthood, and realize that I had been a victim of sexism all my life.

Even she didn’t know the full extent of it.  Not until she saw the difference in the way I’m treated now.

For a long time, I hated her.  I hated her because she wasn’t me, because to me, she represented every lie I had to tell, every secret I had to keep, every part of myself I couldn’t acknowledge.  She was everything about myself I hated.  She was everything about myself that was off.

Now, I realize that she’s the strongest part of me.  Because she had to be.  She had to learn to stand tall when people scoffed at her, when people shrugged her off and dismissed her, when they belittled her, when they told her she was worth less than I am.

She learned how to stand up against those who felt entitled to her body, she learned how to let go and not let their touch haunt her the way it haunted me.  She learned how to protect us from those who saw us as nothing but an object to fuck.  From those who grabbed her on the street, those who sneered at her, who leered at her, who tried to break her.  She learned how to protect us from those who wanted to pull her down and destroy her, from those who wanted to make her less than human.

She learned how to be hard, how to be defiant, how to prove them wrong.  She was everything that was off about me, but she was my protector in a world that hated me not just because I was trans, but because my voice was high and my body was feminine.

And she’s far from the only one.  So many women go through worse than I did.  So many women hurt worse than I did.  I was lucky.  And I’m lucky in that I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

I never truly appreciated the constant battles she had to fight until I didn’t have to fight them anymore.  I never appreciated the strength it took to be her until I saw how much easier it is to be me in our society.

I’ve only been reliably passing as male for a year or so.  I’m still learning who I am outside of her.  And she’s still there to jump to my defense when I need it, because she grew up in a harder world than I live in.

I will always admire the strength it takes to be her, to be every woman.  Even they don’t realize how hard it is to be them, and that makes me angry.

These women have fought these battles every day.

Not against everyone, but against enough.

At least once a day, they are somehow, someway told that they are worth less than men.  But they keep going.  They keep fighting.  They learn how to get past it.

They don’t realize their own strength.  Just as she didn’t realize her own strength.  She didn’t realize what it took to live through a normal life as a woman until she saw how much easier it is to live a normal life as a man.

She resents that.  And so do I.  All the insecurity, all the doubt, all the pain of feeling not good enough, she thought there was something wrong with her.

But no, she was perfect.  She wasn’t me, but she was perfect.  It was society that let her down.  Not any fault or shortcoming of her own.

No man will ever understand the strength it takes to be a woman in a world where women are worth less.  No man will understand the strength it takes to be a woman in a world where no one wants to acknowledge the battles they still fight.

Where people pretend it doesn’t exist.  Where they shrug off a woman, where they brush off her battles.

Women can vote and have bank accounts.  What else could they possibly want?  Why can’t they stop whining?

It repulses me.  It makes me want to turn from the world.

But she’s not heartless.  Because, while I wanted to hate every man for what she went through, while I wanted to sneer at the little trials they thought were just so hard, she was the one who stopped me.

She reminded me that pain is not exclusive to women.  She reminded me of the good men who do fight for women.

She reminded me of the women in my life that I admire.  Women like Domina Jen, who are unbelievably strong, who will never understand the true extent of their own strength, who don’t need anyone to hold them up, but who graciously love and respect the good men in their lives.

But even that a battle in and of itself.

Domina Jen made a mistake once.  She let me see the contents of her email inbox.  And that brought on a whole new wave of bitterness.

Because I will never again have to deal with what she deals with.  The things she considers normal, the threats and the insults that she and everyone around her dismiss, the nonchalance people who love her feel at the way she’s treated, even her own simple, graceful shrug, saying, “That’s just the way it is.”

It infuriated me.  Because it’s not fair.  And who is going to stand up for her?  Who is going to fight for her?  Who is going to let her lean on them the way I could lean on her?

Who could she lean on when the weight of holding me up got to be too much?

No one.

And the internet is only one small facet, one small glimpse of what it’s like to walk through life like this.

A constant and cruel punishment for the unforgivable crime of having a high voice and feminine body.

No man fully understands what paying for that crime feels like, and how deeply it hurts to be met with the dismissive, apathetic attitude so many men exhibit.

Because they don’t want to see it.  They are uncomfortable with being confronted by it.  They are uncomfortable realizing how much harder things like going to the bank or getting your oil changed or running a business are for women.

There’s no rest for these women.  I escaped it, and seeing it from the outside made me realize how bad it really is.  But for the rest, there’s no escape.

I wanted to be angry forever.  I wanted to lose myself in my anger.  And even Domina Jen couldn’t snap me out of it.

But she could.

She was the one who reminded me what it feels like to love a good man.  She was the one to remind me what it feels like to have a good man love me.

She kept me from getting cold.  She kept me from letting the bitterness consume me.

The same way she kept me from letting the bitterness consume me when she had to be my mask.

I know that one day, I won’t need her anymore.  I’ll be able to put her in a little box, close it, and lock it forever.  I’ll be able to leave her behind and move ahead as me.

But that box will always be close to my heart.  Because she saved me, every moment of every day, and she will continue to save me right up until the moment I don’t need her anymore.

It’s isolating, seeing the world from both sides, and it’s why I have gravitated to other trans people.  Because I’m not the only one who sees it.  All trans men see this.

Trans women see the reverse, and my heart hurts for them.  Because they have no way of understanding this world they’re coming in to until they walk into it.

Because transitioning is awful enough, it is anxiety-inducing and depressing enough, without having to come to terms with this new reality.  Having to understand that being true to who they are means that the world will forever see them as less than their mask.

It makes me cynical, but she won’t let me lose all hope.  She stubbornly hangs on, reminding me that giving up never made anything better.

One day, it will be better.  I have faith in good people.  I have faith that good people won’t give up.

I have faith because I know that she isn’t the only fighter around.

Fun with “well-meaning” sexists who think they’re not sexist.

So I was talking to my inlaws the other day, with the spawn in tow.  Suddenly, she came up to me, interrupting our conversation to shove her foot in my lap and exclaim, “Mommy!  I have hairy legs!”

“Congratulations, dear.”

“Do I have to shave them?”

“No, you’re too young for that.”

“Will I have to shave them when I’m a grown-up?”

Both my sister in law and I answered at the same time.  “No.”

But SIL added, “No, never shave.  Go and get waxed, that’s so much better.”

Well…

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I said, “Actually, she doesn’t have to wax either, if she doesn’t want to.”

That’s when my charming mother in law joined the conversation, scoffing and saying, “Yeah, then she’ll look like your sister.”

Now those of you who have been readers for awhile may remember me mentioning that my sister is a dirty, unwashed hippie.  Which I wouldn’t make fun of, if she wasn’t the most confrontational person on the fucking planet.

“My problem with my sister is that she doesn’t bathe,” I told them.  “I don’t care about her hair.  Lots of women don’t shave.  And more and more are stopping.  It’s kind of like this big thing.”

My father in law laughed and said, “Good luck with ever finding a man to put up with that.”

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Hold right the fuck up.

Okay, so there’s something you have to understand about my father in law.  He’s literally the friendliest, most talkative person you will ever meet.  And he’s remarkably open-minded for a conservative Republican.  Kazander has two female cousins, both of which are lesbians, and they both got married at the same ceremony as my inlaws’ vow renewal (a triple ceremony… the pastor I hired damn near had a heart attack when I told him).

However, he’s still a conservative Republican, with very conservative ideas and opinions.

And he’s slightly racist, which honestly shocked the hell out of me, since Kazander’s best friend (who lived with them for a couple years when they were teenagers) was black, and I’ve never seen him act differently toward black people.  I never knew.

Until one night, a couple of years ago, when he called Obama the “N” word (if you’re not from the US, just google it.  I’m not writing it out.  It’s a word that white people used to call black people during a not-hugely-fantastic chunk of our history, and it’s pretty damn racist for a white person to call a black person that now).

Okay, so my father in law called Obama (you know, the fucking President) a n*****.  In front of the spawn.

Who, of course, promptly inquired, “Mommy, what’s a n*****?”

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Fuck my life.  Fuck it right to hell.

So that was a fun conversation.  And my then-3-year-old learned a word that I’d hoped she would never hear used, and as a bonus, she also saw Mommy lose her fucking shit on her grandfather.

Okay, so back to the present.  My father in law said, “Good luck with ever finding a man to put up with that.”

And I said, “Wait just a minute, I spend literally 25 hours a year shaving my legs.  An entire fucking day, wasted.  And it’s costing your son like $500 dollars a year.  Waxing costs more.  That’s $2,500 since the spawn was born that could’ve gone toward her Disneyland trip, or her education, or taking her on a weekend trip at a ski resort so she could play in the snow.”

“Well people spend a lot on toilet paper too, but we still have to do it.”

“I don’t have to do shit.  I shave for one reason.  Literally only one reason.  And that’s because I prefer it.  Should I change my mind and not prefer it anymore, I’m going to stop.  You think I’m going to spend all that time and money, and cut the shit out of myself on a regular basis, just so some guy will think I’m ‘pretty?’  For a man’s approval?  You’re saying I have to go through all that nonsense because a man’s opinion is more important than my time, and my comfort, and my self-esteem?  Is that what you’re saying to your granddaughter?”

“No, wait, I didn’t mean it like that.  I just meant–”

“You just meant that she won’t be able to get a boyfriend if she doesn’t shave her legs.  You just meant that men won’t approve of her decision, and that looking pretty for them is more important than what she wants.”

He stammered and stuttered, and my mother in law jumped to his defense.  “Some people just don’t like body hair, and they’re entitled to their opinion.”

“You’re right.  And how many of those people are straight women?  Do you like flossing every time you give a blowjob?  Because I sure fucking don’t.  But we don’t have a choice, right?  We just have to put up with it, right?  Why?”

“Because men don’t shave,” my FIL said.

 

“What about porn stars?  Most actors?  People who make a living out of looking good shave their body hair, regardless of gender.  Professional wrestlers shave their arms, legs, chest, and pits.  Swimmers, too.  Most athletes.  And why not?  Who decided that women have to shave, while men don’t?

“You’re not going to ever tell my daughter she has to do a goddamn, motherfucking thing to please anyone but herself.  And if she decides she doesn’t want to shave, you’re going to keep your outdated, sexist opinions to yourself.”

“Wait, I’m not sexist,” he said.

“You’re saying she has to shave because that’s attractive to men, and attracting a man is more important than her own self confidence.  How is that not sexist?”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Then enlighten me.”

“That’s just the way it is.  I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s just the way it is.  That’s the way it’s been for years.”

“Uh huh.  And how many people said that about slavery?  About not letting women vote?  About paying women less than paying men?  Are you saying we should still own slaves and women shouldn’t have rights?  Because ‘that’s the way it is?'”

“Shaving is not the same thing.”

“No it’s not.  But it’s the same mindset.  And that mindset is a shitty one to have.”

“It doesn’t make someone sexist,” my mother-in-law said.

“That mindset isn’t why I called him sexist.  I called him sexist because he is saying that ‘looking good’ for a man is more important than what women want. (I turned back to FIL)  And yes, you are sexist.  You remember how uncomfortable you got when I breastfed the spawn in front of you?  You’re fine with me wearing low-cut shirts and push-up bras.  You’ve never once said that anything I wore was inappropriate.

“I know this because I’ve tested that theory.  Right after you asked me to feed my fucking child somewhere else.  You know, when you basically told me I wasn’t allowed to interact with people and feed my kid at the same time.  Remember the blue blouse I wore out to dinner when I was still breastfeeding, and my boobs were bigger than they are now?  Of course you do, you couldn’t stop staring.  I knew that was completely inappropriate to wear at a nice restaurant, but I wore it anyway to see what you’d say.  You didn’t have a single problem with it.

“So flaunting my tits as sexual objects for men to stare at is fine, but flaunting them for what they’re actually for makes you uncomfortable, because that’s not hot.  That’s not sexual, that’s not done for men’s approval, so that makes you uncomfortable.  And it makes you uncomfortable because at some level you feel like you have a right to every woman’s body.  Every woman you find attractive, you have the right to objectify and sexualize.  So when a woman does something that contradicts the way you see her, or interferes with your right to see her as nothing more than a sexual object, like breastfeeding, it makes you uncomfortable.  Right?”

“Lots of people are uncomfortable with breastfeeding,” FIL said.  “Women, too.”

“Lots of people are entitled to their opinions,” I answered.  “But when it comes to my daughter and her choices, you’re going to keep them to your fucking self, or you’re not going to be around her.”

That pissed the MIL off.  “So you’re going to use her as a pawn then?  To manipulate us?”

“Protecting her from being seen as a sexual object is using her as a pawn?  So again, your opinions are more important than her self image, and being comfortable with her body.  Shaming her for not conforming to an outdated and unrealistic standard of beauty is more important than encouraging her to think for herself.”

“That’s not what I said.”

“I said if you can’t keep your opinions to yourself, you won’t see her.  You protested and accused me of using her to manipulate you.  Which means that you don’t agree with having to keep your opinions to yourself in order to see her.  Which means you want to be able to tell her that she has to shave if she ever wants a boyfriend, and that if she ever becomes a mother, she will become a social pariah, and will have to lock herself away from the world to breastfeed, because using her breasts for their biological purpose is shameful.  You want to push all that bullshit on her, otherwise you wouldn’t have a problem with me telling you to keep that shit to yourself.”

My MIL rolled her eyes.  “Fine.  Whatever.”

Fucking bitch.

I grabbed the spawn and left.  We made up after that, and everything’s fine, but I meant what I said.  I have no problem cutting them out of her life if they become toxic.

And it’s true.  I shave because prefer being hairless.  I shave and tweeze and pluck because I like it.  And I spend half an hour putting my makeup on because I like the way it makes me look.

I mean, please.  Do you think Kazander knows the difference between a cat eye, kitten eye, and pinup eye?

Do you think I own 9 shades of red lipstick to impress a guy who literally cannot tell the difference between Rebel, On Fire, and Dynamite?  Who, whenever I buy a new shade, asks, “Don’t you already have red lipstick?”

I do it for myself.  And I shave for myself.  I shower at night instead of in the morning, for a lot of reasons (not the least of which is because my hair is easier to style and looks better 10-ish hours after being washed, and don’t get me started on washing your hair every day), and one of the best feelings in the world is climbing into the soft sheets with freshly-shaven legs.  Seriously awesome feeling.

So I do it because I like it.  Should I ever change my mind, I’ll stop doing it.  And the men in my life will either deal, or they won’t.  And if they won’t, I’ll know that they care more about what society thinks, and my physical appearance, and ability to conform to society’s standard of beauty, than they care about me as a person.

If that’s the case, I don’t want them in my life, anyway, so that works out for me.

And I’ll be damned if I’m going to raise a girl who feels pressured to conform to what someone else thinks she should be.